Policy

Cheap Drinks Save Lives!

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The Russian government recently decided to crack down on bootleg liquor, imposing new licensing requirements and requiring new excise stamps on all alcohol. It also failed to distribute the required stamps, causing a widespread shortage of legal booze. When the stamps finally arrived, easing the shortage, the new licensing requirements more than tripled the price of a half-liter of vodka. The result:

A perennial and pernicious Russian problem — death by vodka — has taken on alarming dimensions in recent weeks as dozens of people have died and thousands more have been hospitalized after drinking bootleg liquor laced with brake fluid, lighter fuel, disinfectants and other poisonous agents.

The requirements were intended to "improve consumer safety." Officials are calling for the logical response to a deadly government fuck up: state monopoly.